It was always going to be hard to follow last month’s roundup, but I think we’ve just about managed with a selection which is diverse, strong and a wee bit longer than normal as there was such a wide selection of music to choose from. In all honesty it could have been twice the length, but, believe it or not, there is a structure to these roundups and we’re determined to stick to it.
The music which did make it includes some electro-punk, folktronica, alternative rock, classic pop, and one unexpectedly good collaboration. Surely something for everyone? We’ve also put together a Spotify playlist called Scots Whay Hae’s Best of 2015 to which some of these tracks will be added, and which will be updated on a monthly basis.
But first off we have a bit of ska. SWH! were at the inaugural Live At New Lanark Music Festival to listen to the music and talk to the bands. We’ll have a podcast out soon with the results of our recordings, but there was no doubt that one of the highlights was the set by The Begbies, a ska band in the classic tradition of the best of 2-Tone such as The Specials, The Selecter and The Bodysnatchers. The perfect way to prove this point is for you to take a listen to their new single ‘Sleeping Dogs’. There are plenty of bands around who do ska badly, so when you discover one who plays it as it should be, full of attitude, anger and energy married to the classic ska rhythm and brass, it reminds you just what marvellous, infectious music it can be. Clear a space on the floor, and take a listen for yourself:
Errant Boy have featured on these pages before, and their new single demanded to be included this time round. It’s a classic three-minute piece of indie-pop which is reminiscent of The Vaselines, The Go-Betweens and The Wedding Present. The single is called ‘Imaginary Song’, and I should warn you it’s indecently catchy. Once it’s in your head it’s going to take up residence for some time. Luckily, that’s the best place for it:
Sometimes you hear a band who appear to have so many influences the whole thing shouldn’t work, but every now again one will come along who are able to juggle lots of styles and yet make the music their own. Add to that short list Glasgow’s Peppermint Fiction. I was hearing The Pixies, The Smiths, Pulp, psychedelia, a touch of goth, a bit of Johnny Cash… Then I realised it mattered not a jot as every song on their EP Peppermint Fiction was turning out to be a belter in its own right, and that was much more interesting. This is a band who are immersed in music, and are determined to make their own mark. For me, it’s the best collection of songs from the month, which is some boast when you see who ends this roundup. As a taster, here’s the opening track ‘Dig In’:
When you marry electronic music with more traditional instruments it’s easy to get the balance wrong, so that one overshadows the other, fighting against each other rather than working together to make something great. A masterclass in how to get it right can be found in the shape of Kill The Waves single ‘Oak Tree’. It’s a piece of music which merits multiple listens. Each play offers up new sounds and secrets as it shimmers and shines, all the while being driven by almost military rhythms and mournful strings. It is an utterly beguiling song. Sit back, relax, and listen:
And now something to shake you up. Batteries are the new project from Bis’s Sci-Fi Steven, and if the single of the same name is anything to go by he’s taken the indie-power pop for which Bis are well-known and decided what it needs is to be faster, louder and more urgent. Coming in at under three minutes, it’s a riot from start to finish, and will leave you exhausted with a huge grin on your face. Imagine you’ve caught yourself almost stepping into traffic, that’s how ‘Batteries’ makes you feel; it’s life-affirming. Strap yourself in:
If you like your classic rock loud and eclectic, then we have the very thing for you. 10 years in the making, Closer have just released their album An Electric Moment, and it takes the best of US alternative rock of the late ’80s and the ’90s and squeezes out any unnecessary excess to leave a set of songs that are lean and lairy, just as they should be. This is my favourite track, ‘Trial In Error’:
A couple of years ago we had singer/songwriter Jack James on the podcast where he was kind enough to play some songs before having a chat to Ali, Ian and Chris Ward. It is a moment which may yet go down as one as historic as when Macca met John as Chris has now joined Jack in his band as they tour his new album, Letters of Last Resort. Jack James makes quality pop music which is timeless, and this album sees a real move forward in terms of the music and the songwriting, with James’ familiar baritone vocals to the fore, sounding more like a Scottish Leonard Cohen than ever. Forget the familial connections we now have, Jack James remains one of the classiest acts around. From the album, this is ‘Call Of The Void’:
When I first heard about the collaboration between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, FFS, I was worried that the whole thing would be nothing more than some extracurricular indulgence in a similar manner as the Kiss solo albums, or The Power Station. What they have produced is a marvellous collection of tracks which celebrates their own music and each others. Exhibit A is the video to ‘Piss Off’, which captures the feel of the project brilliantly, with its tongue so firmly in its cheek they’ll have to be careful the wind doesn’t change:
And that’s it for another month. We hope you found something to your tastes, and that you like our new website. It’s been a long time coming…